The first time my Microsoft Word subscription went out of date felt like a disaster. In the mad rush to find somewhere to type and edit my paper for 7th grade English, I discovered Google Docs. I immediately fell in love with the convenience of it without understanding how it works; I thought it was exactly like Word, storing one’s data on one’s computer, until I saw that my documents were available through my email even at school. That’s the magic of cloud computing, which has revolutionized how people work with data and with one another— so much so that now Microsoft has joined in on the concept.
The “magic” comes from the fact that cloud computing means utilizing the Internet for storing or accessing data as opposed to using local networks of a home or organization such as a school or office. It can get confusing because some network attached storage (NAS) allow for remote access over the Internet, but they still do not count even though they are conceptually similar and functionally almost the same. Its no wonder most people struggle to give more than a nebulous definition of cloud computing, despite widespread reliance on it in recent years. The best explanation I found came from the suggested reading on our class website’s page about writing topics.
There are a few things to know about the cloud:
According to Wikipedia, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines five characteristics of cloud computing:
- On-demand self-service = the user can access capabilities without human interaction
- Broad network access = it’s possible to access via various technologies like mobile phones and laptops
- Resource pooling = the computing resources served multiple people, with individual resources being reassigned continuously to multiple individuals in order to match demand
- Rapid elasticity = capabilities can be released in response to demand
- Measured service = automatically controlled optimization of resource usage by measuring something like storage of bandwidth to inform both the provider and user
To learn more, you can visit the NIST website.
2 Private vs. Public VS. Hybrid
That may seem self-explanatory, but it’s not necessarily intuitive. A public cloud is operated by a provider while a private cloud is operated only by those who use it and using a private network. However, information on a public cloud can be private to individuals or publicly viewable through the Internet, and information on a private cloud may be located somewhere else and hosted by third-parties. Another option is a hybrid cloud, utilizing both a private and a public component, utilizing the benefits of both.
All are defined by what type of service they are. The following public domain graphic from Wikipedia explains it concisely.
Overall, I am glad to have discovered so much about the topic. Cloud computing really has been a blessing for me, making me much more productive and organized than I could be otherwise.